I have been forthright and will remain so that Jimmy Carter was a bad president. Let’s just say that some liberals will not be happy when my obituary is published. But Carter also deserves credit for not only his amazing post-presidency, but also his environmental legacy. In fact, Carter was the only president to really take climate and conservation seriously……ever, including Obama and Biden. It was telling that one of the first things Reagan did when he took office was take down the solar panels Carter had put on the roof of the White House. None of that hippie energy for him! Imagine if the nation had built upon Carter’s commitment to alternative energy and didn’t halt investment and research in it for thirty years or more……
Anyway, another key part of Carter’s environmental legacy was preserving Alaska. This was extremely controversial at the time and many Alaskans have never forgiven him or the Democratic Party for it. Of course the Trumpers and their legal hacks are coming after his legacy. The man will be 98 years old this fall. And yet, frail, he continues to fight for his legacy.
By Alaskan standards, the gravel road that an isolated community near the Aleutian Islands wants to build to connect to an airport is not a huge project. But because it would be cut through a federal wildlife refuge, the road has been a simmering source of contention since it was first proposed decades ago.
Now, the dispute is boiling over. And none other than former President Jimmy Carter, 97, has weighed in.
Residents of King Cove, and political leaders in the state, who argue that the road is needed to ensure that villagers can get emergency medical care, see the potential for a long-sought victory in a recent federal appeals court ruling that upheld a Trump-era land deal that would allow the project to move forward.
Conservation groups, who say the project is less about health care and more about transporting salmon and workers for the large cannery in King Cove, fear that more is at risk than just the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, 300,000 acres of unique habitat for migratory waterfowl, bears and other animals
In a rare legal filing by a former president, Mr. Carter this month supported an appeal by conservation groups to have a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rehear the case. He wrote that the earlier ruling by a three-judge panel “is not only deeply mistaken, it’s dangerous.” The panel voted, 2-1, to uphold the land deal, with two Trump-appointed judges in favor.
In the legal brief, Mr. Carter noted that he had been many things in his life — among them farmer, Sunday school teacher and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize — but that he was not a lawyer.
Yet he has expertise, and a vested interest, in the matter. As president, he pushed for and signed the law in question, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, known as Anilca, in 1980.
In response to questions from The New York Times, Mr. Carter wrote that the law “may be the most significant domestic achievement of my political life.”
“Our great nation has never before or since preserved so much of America’s natural and cultural heritage on such a remarkable scale,” he added.
It’s sad to see Carter live long enough to watch the nation’s institutions collapse. Of course, he didn’t exactly help with the terrible decisions he made in his presidency. Still, he doesn’t deserve this.